15 Amazing Viking God & Goddesses Facts
How much do you about the Viking gods and their wacky ways? It's time to find out with these 15 amazing facts all about the Norse gods!
The Norse gods and goddesses were a fearsome and legendary tribe of mythical beings worshipped by the Vikings! Find out more about them and their incredible stories with these 15 fun facts! Discover where they lived, who they were and their weird connection to the days of the week! And if you liked this, check out more Viking facts here! What about a more in-depth look at Loki the trickster god with these unbelievable facts? And now you've learned all about the Viking gods, why not test yourself with this trivia quiz?
1. Viking Gods Are Part of Norse Mythology
The Vikings were a Scandinavian people who lived between the 8th and 11th centuries AD. They travelled to lots of other parts of the world, and invaded Britain several times over the centuries. Their culture was called Norse culture, and included lots of myths and legends that are still familiar to us today, including the story of Beowulf, Loki, and the Valkyries.
2. The King of the Norse Gods Was Called Odin
The Vikings had lots of gods, not just one, and there leader was a god called Odin. Odin was the god of war, and always had his animal companions with him, two wolves and two ravens. He was also the god of poetry and magic, and only had one eye (having swapped the other one for more wisdom). He was also supposed to have discovered the runic alphabet (the system of language used by the Vikings)
3. They Lived in Asgard
The home of the gods was called Asgard, and it was divided into several realms. It was supposed to be somewhere in the sky, and you could get there from Midgard (the human world) by Bifrost, a bridge made from a rainbow. Asgard is similar to other legendary homes of the gods, like Mount Olympus in Greek Mythology.
4. There Were Nine Realms Altogether
Asgard and Midgard are just two of nine total realms in Viking mythology. The others are Vanaheim (home of one tribe of gods), Jotunheim (the giants land), Alfheim (home of the elves), Niflheim (an ice world), Muslepheim (a world of fire), Nidavellir (home of the dwarves) and Hel (land of the dead). Only Midgard was a real, physical place, the rest were in a spirit realm unseen to mortals.
5. The Gods Were Divided Into Two Tribes
Unlike other myths about gods, the Norse gods didn't all hang out together in one big party. They were actually divided into two tribes - the Aesir (who lived in Asgard) and the Vanir (who lived in Vanaheim). The Aesir were the oldest group, and included Odin, his wife Frigg, and thunder god Thor. The Vanir included Freyr, Freya, and Njord . The two groups often fought wars with each other.
6. Odin's Wife Was Frigg
Odin's wife was a goddess called Frigg. She was the queen of Asgard and the most important goddess. She was a goddess of fertility, love and fate, and was also the mother of several other gods, including Balder Hodor and Hermod. Balder is her favourite child, a god who had the odd distinction of shining very brightly.
7. Thor Is The God of Thunder
Thor is probably one of the best known Norse gods today. Thor was the god of thunder, lightning, storms and strength, amongst other things. His dad was Odin and he had a great big hammer called Mjöllnir (that's meant to be the noise of the thunder!). Thor was also a symbol of paganism - Vikings would wear jewellery with his hammer on it to show they weren't Christian!
8. Loki is the God of Mischief
Loki is what's known as a 'trickster god'. These are gods and spiritual beings who like to mess with mortals by tricking them, using disguises and generally being annoying! Loki liked changing into animals, other gods and even other genders! His most famous (and controversial) act was killing Odin's son Balder, who's only weakness was mistletoe. Loki tricked another god into throwing a spear made of mistletoe at Balder, which killed him! Pretty mean of Loki, really.
9. Freya Was The Goddess of Love
Freya was the most beautiful of all the gods, and she is associated with love, fertility and beauty. Lots of stories in Norse mythology involve other gods fighting over Freya - she was a bit like Aphrodite in Greek mythology, or Venus in Roman mythology.
10. We Get Lots of the Days of the Week From Norse Gods
Yup, four of our modern weekdays are named after Norse gods! There's Tiw, god of war, who's day is Tiw's day (Tuesday) Odin (or Woden) is Woden's day (Wednesday), Frigg's day became Friday, and Thor's day is Thursday! The other days are sun day, (Sunday) moon day (Monday) and, randomly, Saturn's day (Saturday) after a Roman god!
11. The Valkyries Were Odin's Helpers
You've probably heard about the Valkyries, the fearsome female warriors of Norse myth. But did you know they were also spirits who supported Odin? Their job was to transport fallen warriors to Valhalla for Odin's army, although its a bit more sinister than that - they were also in charge of killing those in battle who they thought would make good warriors in the afterlife. It's a bit sneaky!
12. The Gods Had Animal Helpers
The Norse gods were associated with lots of animals. As mentioned, Odin loved hanging out with ravens and wolves. Freya was keen on cats - she had a chariot pulled by two giant ones! Thor had two goats for a similar reason. Maybe the weirdest animal of all is the giant snake Jörmungandr, who encircled the earth, and was said to be a child of Loki!
13. Hel Wasn't Evil
Although we associate her name with Hell, the Norse goddess of the underworld wasn't a bad god. In Norse mythology, a bit like Greek and Roman mythology, the underworld of the dead wasn't a place you went if you were bad, it was a place everyone ended up. Hel presided over the Viking underworld, and looked after anyone who came her way. Although she did look a bit creepy - she's described as pale and a bit spooky!
14. Ragnarök Was the End of the Gods
Ragnarök is the Norse term for the end of the world, a bit like the apocalypse, and it's still to come! According to Norse myths, Ragnarök will be a battle between the gods and evil creatures like giants, and this battle will be so huge it was cause the world's destruction. Let's hope its not anytime soon!
15. They Are Still Popular Today
As well as hundreds of novels, operas, shows and films about the Viking Gods, they're probably best known today as the inspiration for the Marvel characters with the same names. Thor, Loki and their dad Odin have been the stars of numerous Marvel comic books and films, and prove just as popular as their mythical counterparts! Maybe that's where you first heard about them?